Guatemalan general convicted of killing Catholic bishop shot dead in prison riot

GUATEMALA CITY, July 19 (UPI) — Guatemalan Col. Byron Lima Estrada, once sentenced to 30 years for killing Catholic Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi, died Monday during a prison riot.

Lima Estrada and his son, Capt. Byron Lima Oliva, had their 30-year sentences reduced by 10 years in 2005. Gerardi, an opponent of Guatemala’s former military regime, was killed in 1998.

Lima Estrada was considered to be one of the most powerful inmates in Guatemala’s overpopulated prison systems. His lawyer said he was shot in the prison after he ordered that a rival gang was forbidden from selling drugs.

In reducing the sentences, the courts said both men were “accomplices” in Gerardi’s death. The bishop was killed with several blows to the head two days after presenting a report accusing the military of being the major perpetrators of all war crimes during the 1960-1996 military dictatorship.

Some 150,000 Guatemalans were killed during the regime. A third solider was also convicted in 2001 for Gerardi’s death.

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